When the Peninsula Athletic League begins its boys’ golf championship next week, everyone will be chasing a Knight.
The Shoreline Golf Course in Mountain View will host Day 1 of the PAL championships and then the action moves to Green Hills in Millbrae where a new champion will be crowned.
Hillsdale’s Jeremy Sanchez, a senior, comes in as the favorite, qualifying first — more than 11 points ahead of the next PAL competitor.
“It’s certainly a great honor, but Jeremy is the type of kid that will work that much harder given the circumstance,” said Hillsdale head coach Jon Ramirez of Sanchez’s position to start the championships. “He wants to continue to compete at a high level every day and that’s what drives him.
“He is the hardest working athlete I’ve ever worked with. He’s the most coachable so you don’t have to worry about having him put in the time and the work. He wants to succeed.”
Sanchez headlines a first group that includes two Burlingame Panthers in Jeff Carney and Matt Tehan. Burlingame captured a share of the PAL regular season title this season behind their efforts.
The surprise in Group 1 is young Alex Tinsay-Roxas, a Mills High School freshman, who comes in the second qualifying position.
“It’s quite an accomplishment,” said Mills head coach Erik Andersen.
Andersen said than in the 12 years he’s been around the PAL championships, he can’t recall a freshman ever qualifying as high as Tinsay-Roxas.
Tinsay-Roxas plays the junior circuit year-round and thus, isn’t necessarily fazed by the bright lights of something like the PAL championships. Andersen also said playing away from Mills’ home course is a blessing for Tinsay-Roxas and could be a wild card at the championships.
“He’s a good quality player,” Andersen said. “I expect him to be right there at the end. He’s a very steady player (and) he’s very seasoned for his age.”
A lot of eyes will also be on Carlmont, who along with Burlingame, are co-champions of the PAL in 2013. Chief among those Scots is senior Andrew Witt.
Witt is a four-year varsity player and a four-year PAL tournament qualifier. In fact, he’s made the Day 2 cut all four seasons.
“I expect with that his experience, he’ll come in and play well,” said Carlmont head coach Pat Smith.
With a championship in hand, it’s no surprise the top of the qualifying sheet is littered with Scots; Witt is the best of a quintet that includes Mason Holman, Jack Carlson, Like Li and Finigan Tilly. Witt is coming off a 77 at Aptos.
“He definitely has the potential to be a top-four guy,” Smith said.
“All four have kind of taken turns shooting well,” Smith said. “It just depends on who gets hot and putts the best.”
Also with a chance to make some noise is Matt Tinyo of Menlo-Atherton, who qualified in the ninth position.
“I get the sense that Matt is playing really confidently right now,” said M-A head coach Bennett Vaughn. “I expect to see him qualify for CCS as an individual.”
The Bears have another horse in Grant Johnson, a junior, who’s key will be consistency come the championships.
Tinyo is long off the tee and is really coming into his own as a wedge player.
“He always wants to be get better,” Vaughn said. The M-A head coach also mentioned that Tinyo is coming off his best performance of the season and thus, heads to Shoreline with momentum.
“He just happens to be playing his best golf at the tail end of the season.”
Like Mills’ Tinsay-Roxas, another freshman capable of making an impression is young Carter Wailing of Aragon.
Long-time Aragon head coach Guy Oling said Wailling is no fluke, so don’t let the freshman label fool you.
“He’s a solid player,” Oling said. “I look for his to do well, not just next week, but in the future.”
Despite his age, Oling said Wailling is the type of player that can put it all together and have a championship-caliber performance.
Oling said the dark horse in this tournament might be Landon Hart, who’s battled back from a stress fracture injury and is regrouping his game as of late.
“He’s one of those kids that can surprise some people,” Oling said. Hart qualified at 36th.
Andrew Frater (Terra Nova), Stefan Touhey (Woodside) and Jacob Battat (Burlingame) round out the top 10 qualifiers.
The first group of golfers tee off at 10:39 a.m.